by Deborah Brenner-Liss, Ph.D.
Association of Professionals Treating Eating Disorders
San Francisco, CA
Trauma happens to the body (as well as, of course, to the mind and spirit). The feelings that one ends up holding in one’s body, before words, and/or beyond words, often affect how one feels in one’s body. The affects and toxicity from the perpetrator’s “energy” as well their as invasion(s) and intrusion(s) get lodged in the body. Recovery can occur, in the body-self, as well as in the integration of body-self with mind and emotions, so as to lessen the need to utilize eating disorder symptoms in the service of this self-regulation.
For trauma survivors to recover from eating disorders, there are many necessary steps, some of which are the following:
1) Breaking down dissociation, putting ego states into communication with one another;
2) Developing more and more access to a “compassionate witness” part of oneself that can show up to remind us when we have shunted off into an eating disordered self-state, and remind us to reconnect with what is really going on;
3) Reconnecting with our life-force energy;
4) Accepting guidance as to what is healthy for the maintenance of our healthiest life energy;
5) Reaching out to get enough support from the outside such that we can get help bearing the feeling states that by definition were once unbearable;
6) Becoming willing and able to endure the feelings and memories that come up when we resist acting out on the eating disorder symptoms designed to numb the pain;
7) Finding other ways of processing these feeling states and memories;
8) Working with the traumatized parts whose stories had remained quiet and hidden due to the numbing, via starving or binging and purging, or the other various ways of detouring from trauma states via the eating disorder symptoms;
9) Staying present enough to feel and hear and understand the “messages” encapsulated in the eating disorder behaviors;
10) Working to examine and ultimately debunk these “messages” or imperatives that came from intruder/perpetrator energies, or which came from old ways of adapting to horrific circumstances;
11) Developing a connection with that part of ourselves that wants only our Highest Good, and re-finding our connection to our own essential life energy;
12) Finding the piece that is our essential life energy and seeing where it is still in relation to the intruder perpetrator energy, and letting go of the fear that allows that to bind to us;
13) Continuing to nurture ourselves from the part of ourselves that wants only our Highest Good as its sole intent, and continuing to bring the other areas of our lives into alignment with that core positive intention;
14) Inviting all of our part-selves to align, insofar as they can, with our essential life energy and that part of ourselves that wants only our Highest Good as its sole intent.